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The Healthy Lunch Guide

PHOTO: Holly Liss

If you're in Los Angeles, you’re never more than a light power walk away from some lunch place that serves healthy food. And while that’s not a bad thing, it also doesn’t mean all those places are good. For every healthy spot you’re thankful to have in the vicinity, there are two bland, overpriced hacks just trying to take your money. So put down that $19 algae shake that’s actually all sugar, because we’ve rounded up the best spots in LA (organized by neighborhood) for an actually delicious, healthy lunch.

The WestSide

1

Destroyer

Culver City
3578 Hayden Ave
8.6
MAP

When you just can’t look at another kale salad, Destroyer is the answer. This daytime spot in Culver City is putting out some of the most interesting food in the city right now, with the added bonus that a lot of it is actually pretty good for you. The salads here aren’t just salads - they're treasure hunts with things like crispy bits of chicken skin hidden under what looks like a plain plate of lettuce.

2
8.5
MAP

Could we really write this guide and not include Sugarfish? Sushi might not involve a whole lot of vitamin intake, but it sure is healthier than that burrito you were considering. With locations quite literally all over town, always-consistent quality, and unbeatable prices, Sugarfish is one of our go-to lunches. If you’re in a hurry, call ahead for takeout.

3

Tocaya Organica

Venice
1715 Pacific Avenue
7.3
MAP

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of grain bowls and salads on offer for lunch in Venice, and if you want a Mexican version of either (that won't be smothered in sour cream), Tocaya should be your stop. The produce is mostly organic, many of the dishes can be made vegan, and there are taco and burrito options for when you're not feeling quite so healthy. There’s another location in West Hollywood as well.

4

Erven

Santa Monica
514-516 Santa Monica Blvd

Vegan spot Erven is a serious table-service operation at night, but during the day it’s a grab-and-go spot with a small menu of sandwiches and salads you can eat there or take back to your desk. The menu ranges from wholesome (kale salads, quinoa tabbouleh) to less so (beer-battered tofu sandwiches), but we suspect that even beer-battered tofu is better for you than that burger and fries you were thinking of having instead.

5

Bondi Harvest

Santa Monica
1814 Berkeley St
7.9
MAP

Just so you know, to get out of Bondi Harvest with a healthy lunch, you’re going to have to ignore some of the things on the menu. But once you’ve managed that, there are options like a lentil beet burger and a cauliflower “rice” bowl. Adding some Australian-style bacon (thick cut, with way less fat) on the side just means you’re living the paleo life right.

6

Plenty of fast casual options only offer the illusion of being good for you - that Chipotle burrito bowl isn't really doing you any favors. But Flower Child in Santa Monica won't make you regret your life choices. From the vegan options to the mix-and-match veggie and grain plates, most of the menu is both healthy and pretty hearty.

7

Gjusta

Venice
320 Sunset Ave
7.1
MAP

A healthy lunch at Venice’s cool kids clubhouse also involves ignoring things like the porchetta melt and giant slices of pizza. But luckily for you, these people know how to make a salad. The menu changes daily, but expect options like roasted cauliflower with za’atar, something involving squash, and actually-not-boring lettuce bowls.

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Guide:

The Healthy-ish Hit List

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8

Malibu Farm Cafe

Malibu
23000 Pacific Coast Hwy

Unless your great uncle recently left you a pile of cash (or you just happen to be between jobs with plenty of time on your hands), lunch at Malibu Farm Cafe at the end of Malibu Pier probably isn’t a daily opportunity. But on a day off, or when you have visitors in town, it doesn’t get much better. The menu has everything from Swedish-style pancakes to a chicken quesadilla, meaning that even as your vacationing friends go all out, you can stay healthy with an excellent grilled salmon plate or a vegan chop salad.

9

In theory, The Butcher's Daughter sounds kind of insufferable (the Instagram-friendly design, the ability to make pretty much anything vegan, the many people drinking rosé at 11am on a Wednesday), but in a surprise twist, the food here is actually kind of great. There's everything from salads to a "meatball" hero, and it's the kind of place that's just as perfect for a business lunch with a picky vegan as it is for lunch with girlfriends on a day off.

10
8.2
MAP

Located in the back of a convenience store in Playa Del Rey, ASAP Phorage is one of our favorite secret spots in the city. We realize pho isn’t the healthiest thing you could put into your body at 1pm, but you could also do a lot worse for yourself.

11

Da Kikokiko

Playa Vista
12746 W Jefferson Boulevard

At this point, you could probably set your alarm around your next local poké shop opening, but Da Kikokiko rises above the rest. Its Playa Vista location is ideal for all the tech people looking for a healthy break and more importantly, the poké itself is actually great. They have their own signature bowls, but our move is to build your own (with the hamachi and seaweed noodle salad base). The place is well-run, and that shaved ice situation is not to be missed. You deserve a reward for all that healthiness.

Photo: Bethany Nauert

Central LA

12

Fresh Corn Grill

West Hollywood
8714 Santa Monica Blvd
7.0
MAP

Located on Santa Monica Blvd. in the heart of Weho, Fresh Corn Grill seems like one of those dime-a-dozen, order-at-the-counter healthy food spots you see all over LA. And to some extent, it is. Except for the fact that the food is actually pretty good. And with everything from cajun shrimp pizza to meatloaf, you won’t have to gag down a sad bowl of wet kale either. Lines can get long during peak hours, so call ahead and take advantage of their efficient to-go operation.

13

sweetgreen

Hollywood
6115 W Sunset Blvd

At the end of the day, the build-your-own salad concept will never fail at lunchtime. Especially when it's as good as Sweetgreen. The East Coast chain is all over LA these days and despite some local competition, Sweetgreen has easily found its way into Hollywood’s lunch rotation. And that's because it's quick, affordable, and the Rad Thai salad is everything you need to get through the rest of a Wednesday. Its prime Columbia Square location doesn’t hurt either.

14

Your boss is an aggressive vegan and barking once again about where to take a new client for lunch. Send them Crossroads, a Weho institution and one of the only real sit-down vegan spots in the city that’s ultimately worth the price. The feel inside is quiet and classy - much closer to steakhouse vibe than a lunch spot that serves fresh-pressed carrot orange ginger juice. And while Crossroads doesn't shy away from the fake meat situation, their meatball sub actually tastes like a legitimate sandwich.

15

Hugo's Restaurant

West Hollywood
8401 Santa Monica Blvd
7.5
MAP

Hugo’s is a West Hollywood mainstay, and one of the original healthy restaurants in LA - they’ve been around since the ‘70s. But despite whatever nightmarish vision a "healthy cafe in Weho" conjures in your mind, Hugo's is surprisingly unpretentious and easy to get in and out of for a weekday lunch. There's no scene or gross in-crowd, just your everyday neighborhood spot (frequented by actual locals) that also happens to serve healthy food.

16

Baroo

East Hollywood
5706 Santa Monica Blvd
8.8
MAP

Baroo is easily one of the most unique restaurants in Los Angeles. But for however overwhelming an experimental, Korean-ish fermentation cafe sounds on your lunch hour, Baroo works because it’s delicious, affordable, and way more accessible than you'd ever think. Located in an East Hollywood strip mall, our move at this bright neighborhood spot is always the Ragu-style handmade pasta and the kimchi fried rice, but you frankly can’t go wrong with anything.

17

Backyard Bowls

Beverly Grove
8303 Beverly Blvd.
7.7
MAP

This acai bowl spot on Beverly Blvd should be an all-out nightmare (and when lines are out the door, it is). But on a weekday at 12:30pm, you’ll be hard pressed to find a healthier quick lunch option. If you’re looking for something hefty, the peanut butter-based Power Bowl is your move, and the kiwi-topped Dragon Bowl isn’t just the one you see on Instagram all the time, it’s also really good.

18
7.7
MAP

It's entirely possible that the famous-on-Instagram people hanging out around these parts don't eat anything except green juice and Alfred coffee, but that just means more Croft Alley for us. Hidden behind the action of Melrose Place, this little daytime spot has both the expected (a kale salad) and the unexpected (a coconut brown rice risotto, housemade yogurt with chlorophyll). We still don't really know what chlorophyll is, but it's a green liquid, so we're guessing it's good for you.

19

Beefsteak

Beverly Grove
7661 Melrose Ave

Located right in the Melrose shopping district, there’s nothing about this order-at-the-counter spot that’s going to particularly jump out at you. And that's why we feel the need to tell you about it. The menu seems pretty straightforward, sticking mainly to salads and wraps, but the actual items themselves are not. Our go-to is the Ktown bowl - kimchi, broccolini, toasted seaweed, and a whole bunch of other things that make its $13 price a steal. Try the beet jerky too.

The Valley

20

SunCafe Organic

Studio City
10820 Ventura Blvd
7.6
MAP

Over on that awkward stretch of Ventura largely dominated by families trying to find the entrance to Universal Studios, SunCafe is known for having some of the best organic food in the area and one thing you don’t often see at places like this: a solid beer list. Your boss has been talking down to you all week because he's going through a nasty divorce and sometimes you need a beer with that salad.

21

HealthyCA

North Hollywood
4724 Lankershim Blvd

Right on the border of Toluca Lake and NoHo, this dime-sized spot is nothing more than a counter and a few tables out front on the sidewalk, but you don’t come to HealthyCA to lounge around all day. You come here to get what’s probably the best salad situation in the Valley (the HealthyCA salad can't be beat) and to eat in your car in blissful solitude.

Photo: Brant Cox

The Eastside/DTLA

22

Forage

Silver Lake
3823 W. Sunset Blvd.
7.6
MAP

This Silver Lake cafe takes the whole farm-to-table thing to near-embarrassing heights (they’ll tell you the exact farm your food came from), but it’s saved by the fact that it's delicious. It’s also very affordable and lines are never too long during the day. Oh, and that mac and cheese? Quietly some of the best in the city. Shhhhhhhh.

23

Sqirl

Silver Lake
720 N. Virgil Ave.
8.9
MAP

Sqirl hardly needs an introduction. The Silver Lake cafe is an all-out mob scene seven days a week and has pretty much come to define eating in Los Angeles right now. Here’s the good news - it’s all worth it. Sure, we aren’t running any calorie counts on that brioche toast and jam, but throughout a large portion of the menu, Sqirl delivers quality, nutritious food that’s better than just about anything else. Get the Sorrel pesto bowl and die happy.

24

Kitchen Mouse

Highland Park
5904 N Figueroa St

Your 13-year-old little cousin is going to love Kitchen Mouse. From that name to the cutesy interior, this Highland Park spot might be adorable, but it's also full of tasty healthy food that's mostly gluten-free and vegan. The lunch move here is one of the bowls, but they also do breakfast until 3pm, meaning chilaquiles are in your future.

25

Good Girl Dinette's been serving diner-inspired Vietnamese classics in Highland Park since way before it became your new soulmate in neighborhood form. For a not-entirely-bad-for- you lunch option, the rice noodle salads are excellent, especially when you get the seared beef with lemongrass chili oil on the side.

26

By Chloe

Silver Lake
2520 Glendale Blvd

By Chloe is famous (in NYC, where it's from) for its vegan burgers that do a pretty good job of imitating the meat-filled originals. But if you’re trying to be healthy, that’s probably not the direction you should go in here. Which is fine, because they also have some pretty tasty salads and a rotating selection of vegetable sides. If you choose to add some vegan mac and cheese to the mix, we will not judge.

27

Madcapra

DTLA
317 S Broadway
8.6
MAP

We are fully aware that falafel is deep fried carbs wrapped in even more carbs, but at Madcapra you can actually be pretty healthy. There are vegetables in everything here - from the salads and sides to the beet-flavored soda. The menu options are color-coded according to the main vegetables involved, and we tend to go for the green one in salad form when we're trying to be responsible (and the sandwich when we're not).

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